The shift to remote work led teams to experiment with asynchronous work — and redefine the concept of teamwork in the process.

Whether it’s sports, relationships, or work, we all suffer from some personal bias about what a healthy team looks like. But ask yourself this: Is working together the same as working as a team?

To many of us, the answer is no. While the traditional notion of teams working in sync persists, the reality is that collaboration doesn’t always necessitate simultaneous, location-bound efforts. 

In this post, we’ll explore the concept of asynchronous work and share some of our best strategies to increase productivity.

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What is asynchronous work?

Asynchronous work occurs when teams have work hours that don’t directly align. This happens because of time zone and location differences or because teams choose their hours.

Some teams have specific mandatory overlapping hours and operate asynchronously outside of that time. Some remote teams start working on a fixed schedule but gradually become more asynchronous over time to work around other responsibilities.

You won’t be able to do away with all synchronous work. So, how do you decide which work should be done asynchronously and which should be done synchronously?

Asynchronous vs. synchronous work (examples)

Asynchronous vs. synchronous work pyramid

Source: Doist

What is the difference between asynchronous and synchronous communication? Synchronous work happens in real-time, while async work happens on our own time.

Even if a team spans different time zones, they operate synchronously when they engage in a Zoom video call, a Slack back and forth, or another communication method requiring an immediate response.

Real-time communication is excellent, but it isn’t always possible. Some remote employees only overlap for a few hours daily, so they’ll also have to mix in some async communication.

This could come in the form of watching a video, reading a guide a teammate created in Google Docs, or sending a progress update email. Successful asynchronous working is all about finding the right strategy for your team. 

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Global trends in asynchronous work

Now that 47% of people say they are more likely to put family and personal life over work than before the pandemic, we aren’t returning to how things were before 2020.

The rise of asynchronous practices has become a game-changer, especially when your team spans the globe. No more awkward time zone acrobatics trying to sync everyone up for a meeting. 

Asynchronous work lets team members do their thing when it suits them, breaking free from the time constraints of traditional 9-to-5 routines.

Sure, there are challenges – but with clear communication and a sprinkle of tech magic, asynchronous work isn’t that complicated. It’s not just about getting the job done; it’s about learning and respecting how your colleague in Sydney approaches work differently from your teammate in Berlin.

So, as we embrace asynchronous work on an international stage, we’re not just bridging time zones but embracing global collaboration that celebrates adaptability, cultural understanding, and effective cross-border teamwork.

Why should asynchronous work be part of your business strategy?

Companies around the globe already realize that remote workforces perform better than in-office teams. But can asynchronous collaboration help us take productivity to even greater heights?

Well, not without overcoming some remote work challenges.

Limited meeting times, time zone differences, and language barriers can affect even the most experienced teams. You’ll also need to strengthen relationships and encourage remote communication. Not all work environments have conventional coffee breaks or water cooler chats.

The benefits of asynchronous work

At Hubstaff, we’ve found that having the right tools makes asynchronous communication one of our greatest strengths.

With asynchronous work, team members get plenty of time to focus, but we still have excellent systems to help us stay connected. However, it’s not only about productivity.

One of the primary reasons we’re asynchronous is because of our company values.

At Hubstaff, we believe asynchronous communication is the future of work.  Flexible schedules help us reduce burnout and be more present for what matters most to us. It also allows us to put our families and personal lives first.

“Working at Hubstaff has allowed me to take full advantage of remote work. Being an ex-pat is never easy: I find myself missing my family, friends, and even the Portuguese cuisine more than I expected. Thanks to remote work, I’m able to travel back home every few months to spend quality time with my family. Even back home, I can continue working without missing a beat.”

Tiago Santos
Software Engineer

As the saying goes, variety is the spice of life. We love the ability to change plans at a moment’s notice. Because we try to limit meetings whenever possible, no one has to cancel plans or refrain from spontaneous decisions when working async:

“I can volunteer for a field trip when another chaperone cancels at the last minute. I can wake up and decide to go to the beach with my family because it’s a beautiful day. I can do these things knowing I’m not letting others down and disrespecting their time. All I need to do is find time to make up the work.”

Courtney Cavey
Director of Marketing
Florida, U.S.

Of course, asynchronous collaboration gets easier the more you practice. Spontaneous trips, flexible hours, and impromptu time with family aren’t possible without healthy workflows.

Challenges and solutions in asynchronous work

We’ve already sung the praises of asynchronous work. But we’ll be the first to admit, like with anything else, there are challenges to asynchronous work. We’ll explain some of the issues you will inevitably encounter and include solutions to combat these concerns. 

  • Communication gaps: Asynchronous work can sometimes feel like playing phone tag — responses take ages, and misunderstandings linger.
  • Solution: Switch to a communication platform with threaded discussions and instant notifications. Keep it clear and snappy in messages, and set the golden rule of response times.
  • Collaboration coordination: Collaborating gets tricky when everyone is dispersed.
  • Solution: Create a project management tool that outlines tasks and timelines. Ensure milestones are spotlighted, and ask for regular updates – it’s your teamwork beat.
  • Team cohesion and bonding: Bonding when there’s no water cooler talk? It’s like trying to make friends in a library.
  • Solution: Think virtual picnic! Throw in some team-building games, and sprinkle in a few video calls for that face-to-face warmth. It’s like your team’s very own cozy corner of the library.
  • Accountability issues: Keeping everyone on track without micromanaging is like herding cats.
    • Solution: Grab a task management lasso with progress tracking. Set clear deadlines, and herd those cats with regular check-ins and updates. Accountability without the bossy vibes.
  • Time zone differences: Planning meetings, organizing deadlines, and other project management tasks are more complicated when everyone is in a different time zone.
    • Solution: Pick tools that show multiple time zones so your global party is in sync. Set the party rules—overlap working hours—and use tools that let everyone join, no matter their time zone. It’s the ultimate global shindig!

As we navigate the evolving landscape of work, embracing the strategies and tools for mastering asynchronous collaboration is not just a choice—it’s a leap toward a more connected, adaptable, and prosperous future of work.

So, how can you get started?

Building an asynchronous work culture

Building a thriving asynchronous work culture requires a thoughtful approach and a shared commitment to flexibility. 

Here are some actionable tips to foster an asynchronous work culture:

  • Empower autonomy: Encourage a sense of autonomy among team members. Allow them to structure their work to suit their productivity rhythms. Trusting employees to manage their time fosters a sense of responsibility and ownership.
  • Documentation and knowledge sharing: Promote the habit of documenting processes, decisions, and project updates. This serves as a valuable knowledge-sharing resource and ensures that team members can catch up on developments independently, reducing the need for constant synchronous communication.
  • Continuous feedback: Implement a system for continuous feedback. Encourage team members to provide feedback asynchronously on projects, processes, and team dynamics. This ensures that everyone has a voice in shaping the work culture.
  • Training and onboarding: Provide training and onboarding resources emphasizing the principles and practices of asynchronous work. Equip new team members with the tools and knowledge needed to integrate into the asynchronous work environment seamlessly.

By incorporating these strategies, organizations can cultivate a culture that embraces the advantages of asynchronous work, promoting collaboration, flexibility, and productivity among team members.

Employee well-being and asynchronous work

The embrace of asynchronous work extends beyond productivity and efficiency; it significantly influences employee well-being and mental health. The flexibility inherent in asynchronous work allows individuals to tailor their schedules to better align with their energy levels and personal commitments. 

This autonomy reduces stress associated with rigid work hours and provides an opportunity for employees to achieve a healthier work-life balance. The absence of constant real-time demands fosters a less pressured environment, minimizing burnout and promoting a more sustainable approach to professional life. 

Asynchronous work acknowledges employees’ diverse needs and circumstances, contributing to a positive impact on mental health by creating a space for self-care and individualized work practices.

The critique that async work can easily slip through the cracks is valid. That’s why it’s vital to collaborate with your team to create an asynchronous workflow.

The first step is to create an asynchronous collaboration policy.

1. Create an asynchronous collaboration policy

Overhauling how you work can be overwhelming, so it’s much easier to create new policies when you break them into smaller subcategories. Help your team adjust to change gradually by prioritizing specific policies and adopting new habits individually.

Here are a few areas to focus on while developing your asynchronous work policy:

Encourage documentation

In cultivating a culture of documentation, emphasize the value of capturing and recording key aspects of team endeavors. Encourage team members to see documentation not as a mere formality but as a powerful tool for enhancing collaboration and knowledge-sharing.

Communicate that documentation is a two-fold endeavor—it provides a historical record of decisions and updates and acts as a dynamic resource that keeps the team aligned and informed. 

This shift in perspective transforms documentation from a passive activity to an active contributor to the team’s success.

Instill the notion that documentation is not about creating mountains of paperwork but distilling essential information. Encourage brevity, clarity, and relevance in documentation, making it a user-friendly reference rather than a burdensome task.


As previously mentioned, unnecessary meetings hurt productivity.

That said, you won’t be able to do away with them altogether. You may need to hold sprint meetings, weekly 1:1s, and brainstorming sessions to keep your team connected.

This can be a challenge for asynchronous teams. With so many different schedules, there are tiny windows where everyone is available simultaneously. So, how do you make it work?

One way is to have your teams utilize the Stand-up feature in Hubstaff. If someone can’t make a meeting, their team leader can share what they’ve been working on.


Even if you can find a time when everyone’s schedule overlaps, people may still be missing because of sick time, vacations, or other conflicts.

It’s also smart to record meetings so those team members can catch up when available. Plus, team members who were there can look back on the recording to clear up confusion and remember what was said.

Communication etiquette

Create a general etiquette guide for your teams regarding remote meetings, video calls, and Slack messages. Include guidelines for communication tools, too. Consider this:

  • Slack response time etiquette – How quickly do you expect people to respond on Slack and other instant messaging apps?
  • Video meeting camera policy – When should team members keep their cameras on?
  • Cell phone policies – What are the rules for contacting people on their devices?

One of the most common complaints from new remote and distributed teams during the pandemic was that it was hard to unplug and get away from work. Some people felt like they were living at work rather than working from home.

Set clear boundaries so that off time can truly be a time to unplug and stop thinking about work.

At the same time, your team members need to hold each other accountable so that work doesn’t stall.

If your remote workers are on their phones during meetings or not responding to Slack messages promptly, it can make it harder to collaborate efficiently. If left unchecked, these small habits can balloon and create productivity issues.

Create a communication manifesto

At Hubstaff, we include all the policy elements we discussed in our Communication Manifesto. Get a free copy of our policy here to see how we create and handle asynchronous communication rules.

We’ve worked through our fair share of communication challenges — like every other growing team.

One of the ways we conquered our collaboration struggles was by creating this Communication Manifesto.

We aim to balance being available and responsive to teammates while finding quiet time to focus without interruptions. The Communication Manifesto gives us clear boundaries and expectations to help us do that.

Make your communication guidelines even more transparent by setting up rules for do-not-disturb hours.

Do-not-disturb hours

Slack Do Not Disturb feature

If you want your team to become great at asynchronous collaboration, create an environment where your team never feels afraid to be offline. People should trust that they can step away and recharge when needed.

Even when your team is signed in and working, they don’t always have to be available for interruptions. One of the most significant advantages of remote work is the ability to control distractions while tackling jobs that require a lot of focus.

Use Do Not Disturb and custom status away status settings for messaging apps like Slack. If you’re unsure how to configure these settings, Slack has a helpful guide to get you started.

At Hubstaff, we also like to do this with a shared Gmail calendar. Our team posts when they’ll be out of the office or unavailable during the day.

If team members plan to be out frequently, they can create their office hours by adding time to the calendar and changing the “Does not repeat” setting to a frequency of their choice. You can learn more tricks from Google’s support page. 

You can use this feature to create time-blocking schedules and implement focus time best practices.

Even when your asynchronous teams are on the clock, you must instill a culture where each team member’s independence is respected. One of the ways we do this at Hubstaff is with focus time.

Hubstaffers can block out two four-hour periods each week for focused tasks. We put our times on a shared calendar and use these points in our week to grind out deep work.

Focus time isn’t foolproof, but the idea is that you will have eight hours a week of uninterrupted time. That means no Slack messages, emails, or meetings.

2. Find tools for async conversations and meetings

Respecting boundaries is challenging without the right tools. That’s why our team at Hubstaff has a few staples we like to turn to. Here are some of the best apps for async work.


Imagine this: your team, spread across different time zones, can effortlessly work on projects without missing a beat. It’s all because Figma lives in the cloud, allowing everyone to dive into design tasks whenever suits them best. 

Comments can be dropped onto the design files, making communication a breeze even if you’re not online simultaneously. And here’s the cool part – Figma’s version control ensures everyone’s on the same page with the latest design, avoiding those head-scratching moments of conflicting changes. 

So, if you’re all about flexibility, global teamwork, and hassle-free design collaboration, Figma’s got your back in the asynchronous work game.


Yac is a tool that allows teams to hold asynchronous meetings. Can’t find time to meet with a co-worker? No problem.

With Yac, you can create pre-recorded meetings that allow you to add attachments, copy transcriptions, and share Yacs with other team members.

Here’s a Yac I received from Yac’s Head of Customer Experience, Tyler Sellhorn:

“At Yac, we’re in the business of building high-performing remote teams. We do that by prioritizing voice messaging over text messaging and screen sharing over video conferencing. We’re all about putting those two things together in a space where you can have a better meeting that’s more efficient.”

Tyler Sellhorn
Head of Customer Experience

With the annotations feature, you can even simulate the screen-sharing features of a tool like Zoom or Slack. Record your screen and draw on it like a virtual whiteboard to emphasize your points. Then, send it to your team for feedback.


Slack is a workplace communication and messaging tool for teams of all sizes.

An easy-to-use search feature helps asynchronous teams maintain a healthy work-life balance. Employees can answer their questions and find files without disturbing their teammates who are off the clock.

When you need to talk face-to-face, Slack’s video calling feature is excellent for quick one-on-ones and meetings.

At Hubstaff, we treat Slack like our office space. The #general channel is a great place to post announcements the whole team needs to see. We also have channels organized by teams for group discussions and specialized information sharing.


Team Sprints

Hubstaff Tasks add-on is our central location for all project-related communication and collaboration.

Whenever we work on a task, we comment on what we did so the next person has a detailed work log. If we have questions or requests for teammates, we tag them on the task card and communicate directly within the task. The description lets you link documents, add attachments and labels, and set due dates. When it’s time to hand something off, we assign it to the right person.

Our team uses Hubstaff to ensure we’re all working on the right priorities at the right time.

Each team member can see their task assignments and all the steps they need to finish before the project is complete. We know where we fit in the process and when to finish our part to stay on track.

As mentioned, Hubstaff Tasks has an automated Stand-ups feature that keeps everyone connected, no matter when they work. It’s just like the check-ins you’re used to on Agile teams, except we can do it asynchronously.

At the end of our workday, we submit a Stand-up update that lists what we’ve worked on, what we’re doing next, and any roadblocks.

In many ways, Hubstaff Tasks is our secret to successful asynchronous collaboration.

3. Change project expectations and due dates

Successful asynchronous teams can reimagine expectations and deadlines.

Most teams have the luxury of working the same hours, so sticking to fixed deadlines is easier. On an asynchronous team, you’ll either need to:

  • Move deadlines up. If you have client-facing deadlines that cannot be pushed back, consider creating an internal deadline that’s even earlier. This way, you’ll have room for error if schedules don’t align. Worst case, you’ll have deliverables ready ahead of time.
  • Create flexible deadlines. Ask yourself if deadlines need to be set in stone. What would happen if you pushed back a deadline? Would it hurt the project’s chance of success? If the answer is no, maybe experimenting with flexible deadlines would be helpful.
“Something I learned while leading the Hubstaff customer experience team (that at the time spanned 18 time zones from Seattle to Melbourne) is how much you need to operate without the assumption that people are working at the same time.”

Tyler Sellhorn
Head of Customer Experience

No matter how you enforce deadlines, a great mantra for async teams is “always default to action.”

In other words, async collaboration works best in a proactive environment. Create a culture where employees feel comfortable jumping in — even when nobody else is around to guide them.

The results might vary, but it’s better to have a work in progress than a project that hasn’t been touched. Wouldn’t you rather pay employees with a strong work ethic than ones who are afraid to make mistakes?

We’ve succeeded with this methodology, but that doesn’t mean it’s for everyone.

Recent trends and the future of asynchronous work

In recent years, asynchronous work has experienced a remarkable surge in popularity, primarily driven by advancements in technology, changing workplace dynamics, and a growing recognition of its benefits. 

The rise of collaboration platforms, like Slack, Microsoft Teams, and asynchronous design tools, such as Figma, has enabled teams to collaborate seamlessly across different time zones and locations.  

Looking ahead, the future of asynchronous work seems poised for even more significant expansion. The continued development of AI-driven tools will enhance asynchronous collaboration. These tools may include advanced project management systems, intelligent chatbots, and improved virtual collaboration environments. 

Traditional offices aren’t vanishing; they’re getting a facelift. Think of them as spots where teams can swing by for some face-to-face brainstorming and team-building but for the day-to-day stuff? That’s happening in the virtual realm, making things more flexible for everyone. The office is getting a makeover to balance in-person connections and virtual workdays.

Async or swim: not a method for everyone

Mastering asynchronous collaboration will take lots of practice. Even then, async working might not be suitable for your team. Some teams benefit from simultaneously being in the same place, while others thrive working asynchronously. 

There are no easy, one-size-fits-all solutions, but transparency, respect, and the right tools are a great place to start.

Have you tried asynchronous working? Tell us all about it in the comments.

Category: Remote